2009 Volkswagen City Jetta
2009 Volkswagen City Jetta
2009 Volkswagen City Jetta. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2009 Volkswagen City models

Whenever a new model comes out, the vehicle it replaced is usually cast aside even before its successor turns a wheel. But when Volkswagen introduced new versions of its Jetta and Golf, it made an unusual move: it not only kept the outgoing models, but turned them into successes once again, creating the City Golf, and my tester, the 2009 City Jetta.

The City models came about for 2007, when new Jetta replaced old Jetta, and the Golf gave way to a new model, renamed Rabbit. Between the upcoming cars’ phase-in time and the temporary discontinuation of Volkswagen’s diesel – now revived as a clean, U.S.-compliant engine – the company lacked the entry-level models that had proved so popular with Canadian buyers. The answer was to continue importing the old models, strictly for Canada – they were never sold in the U.S. – with the “City” prefix. It proved to be a very savvy marketing decision. But they were only ever temporary measures, and their days are numbered: the 2009 City Jetta is in its final year, while the City Golf will carry into the 2010 model year, ending its sales run in the first part of next year.

Like the City Golf, the City Jetta comes with only one engine choice, and in a single trim line. It’s a naturally-aspirated, 2.0-litre, SOHC four-cylinder engine, and it’s a carryover that’s used exclusively in the City models; the 2.5-litre, turbocharged 2.0-litre and clean diesel in the new Jetta aren’t shared. The City Jetta also comes only as a four-door sedan, with no wagon variation available.

So why settle for an older design and so few choices? It’s all about the price. The City Jetta starts at $16,900, while the least-expensive 2009 Jetta is $21,975. That naturally gets you more features, but when matching my tester’s options as closely as possible to a 2.5-litre Jetta, my City version came out $2,065 less. That’s not quite as much of a difference, but it’s still several months’ worth of payments, and a major consideration if you’re on a budget.

The default transmission is a five-speed manual; a six-speed automatic includes a regular “Drive” mode, a “Sport” mode that keeps it in gear a bit longer for a sportier feel, and a manual shift mode, for an additional $1,400. That’s quite an impressive feature in this segment, and it was added for 2008, when the City models got a freshening-up.

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